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November 23, 2003
Vol. III, No. 32

"Every Little Bit (Seems Like It) Helps"
In the September 2003 issue of Clavier, I came across an article by Jeffrey Wagner entitled "Perspectives On a Career in Music." Wagner's article drew heavily on a book by Artur Schnabel (1882-1951), "My Life and Music" (Dover),
that Wagner describes as "a compilation of talks he (Schnabel) gave at the University of Chicago in 1945 about his perspectives on a life in music." Here's a quote from the article:

"Young musicians who pursue another profession can infer some advice from a comment Schnabel made to Ira Hirschmann, his friend and pupil, who was a businessman, journalist, and diplomat. 'Promise me that you will practice ten minutes a day.' This encouragement is significant because Schnabel did not dismiss Hirschmann for being in another profession, as some well-known teachers would have. Remember that Schnabel's goal was the general improvement of culture, and in his eyes amateurs counted as much as professionals. Hirschmann later reflected, 'Since that day the habit of daily practice has become so ingrained in me that a day that begins without a warm-up at the instrument is a day built on a void.'"

While having a day job tortures my artistic sensibilities, there's a crumb of comfort in knowing I'm not alone. Lately, I've been trying to play the piano in the morning before I leave for work. I succeed probably less than half the time and even when I do, I sometimes manage only two or three minutes. While I can't say I experience Hirschmann's 'void' on the days I don't practice, I do recognize a difference on the days I do. Part of it is having some small sense of accomplishment that I was able to carve out a few minutes for myself. Part of it has to do with starting the day off right, like eating a good breakfast.

I find Bach's Two-Part Inventions to be the perfect length for my morning sessions. In less than five minutes I can make it through a couple of them, usually the F Major and one other.
What's interesting is that regardless of how little time I spend, it still seems to reinforce whatever extended practice I accomplish the rest of the week. I guess it keeps the blood flowing through the fingers or something.

If Schnabel felt that ten minutes a day could contribute to the general improvement of culture, I wonder how he would have felt about my two-minute sessions? While I'm on the subject, don't miss my free workshop, "Avoid the 'Full-time Job, No Time to Practice' Blues!"
for tips on how to make practice sessions more efficient and productive. Catch as catch can and make the world a better place. Hasta la vista, baby!
Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

Updated Pages
Articles Library:
Added is "Mine Is Bigger Than Yours" from Forbes Magazine. "What kind of obsession would induce a man to order an 8,000-pipe organ for his living room? Robert Ridgeway, curator for Jasper Sanfilippo's collection of musical devices, recalls the reaction of a first-time visitor to the Sanfilippo estate in Barrington Hills, Ill. The guest, a wealthy Japanese businessman, happened to love theater organs and had heard that Sanfilippo owned a doozy. The man admired the estate's long driveway. He admired its vestibule. But when the doors to the music room were at last thrown open, says Ridgeway, the man exclaimed, 'Oh! Emperor not live like this!'" Click link below for more.

Musician Jokes page:
Added is another submission from a community member.

Art Print Store:
THERE'S STILL TIME! Christmas is a great time to remember that special organist or choir director with a gift. Why not a framed art print of their favorite composer (even if it's not Bach)? Choose from the world's largest selection of posters and art prints using the link below.

Read "THE DA VINCI CODE" by Dan Brown, #1 New York Times Bestseller!
The murder of a curator at the Louvre leads to a trail of clues found in the work of Leonardo and to the discovery of a centuries-old secret society.

Have a great week!

Dan Long

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